Amongst the litany of independent brands that have popped up in recent years, few of them can compete with the timepieces that De Bethune has been creating. Although the brand has only been around the block for around two decades, they are recognized as one of the most exciting and important independent watchmakers today to come out of the Sainte Croix in the Swiss Jura mountains. De Bethune has created a powerful ‘DNA’ as they have unrelentingly developed and stuck with their own unique style. The De Bethune DB28 Black Zirconium was initially released in 2013, and in my opinion, it is a paramount example of the Maison's spirit and disruptive design ethos within the horological space.
The DB28 is somewhat of a brand icon for De Bethune- it assumed the role of a catalogue constant and it has been the brand’s creative canvas/medium for many different iterations in showcasing the core values and design prowess of De Bethune. The first DB28 was introduced back in 2011 which also immediately won them an award at the Grand Prix d’Horlogerie de Genève, and to this very day, I have not seen any other watch that is quite like the DB28. Its sheer beauty is complicated to explain in mere words but easily understood when worn on the wrist.
Just like the design ethos of the rest of the DB28 variants, the DB28 Black Zirconium we have on offer here today was conceived with a remarkable focus on ergonomics, finishing and craftsmanship. It features a ceramised aluminium case in 42.6mm (and 9.3mm in thickness) surrounding a gorgeous openwork dial. The highly-engineered dial features an array of contrasting yet meticulous finishing which surprisingly enhances its overall legibility. It has matte black Côtes de Bethune, polished spherical pip white gold hour markers surrounded by a railway-style outer minute scale, hand-finished bridges, an exposed balance wheel with a polished titanium bridge, a looped indicator hand for the small running constant seconds, and a spherical moon phase at 6 o'clock that is composed of palladium with a display that is supposedly accurate to one lunar day every 122 years.
Without a doubt, this is an absolutely fantastic watch, technically and aesthetically. But wait, there’s more - turn over to the case back of the watch and you will then be greeted by the beautiful Cal. DB2115 beating away at 28,800 vph. It also features an array of cutting-edge technology at the time of release – a snail-perlage main plate, hand-polished and chamfered steel components, a temperature-compensating silicon balance spring, a two-armed silicon annular balance with platinum inertia blocks, and a silicon centre placed inside a platinum ring. It also includes a cageless tourbillon composed of silicon, platinum, and steel. Its construction features 38 jewels, a total of 299 components, self-regulating twin barrels, and a triple parachute shock absorber system. Whilst looking at the caseback, you will also find a power reserve indicator with a red warning strip marked “POWER”. I know, it's a lot to take in at one go, but this just demonstrates De Bethune’s relentless and meticulous approach when it comes to high-end modern watchmaking.
Given its size and the sheer amount of tech utilized in its design, you will be surprised to find how light the DB28ZS8S physically feels on the wrist. As I have mentioned earlier, the usage of materials here is key. The case is actually lightweight aluminium ceramised with anthracite zirconium and the lugs are actually made from titanium with a similar treatment. I also thought that De Bethune’s choice of materials here was very pragmatic, because ceramic has the tendency to shatter upon impact, but ceramised metal cannot.
Like the rest of the DB28 variants, it deploys De Bethune’s patented floating-lug system, which aids in the fitment and adjustment of the wearer’s wrist size and movements. That being said, the DB28 flies slightly under the radar in comparison to its other variants, mainly due to its subdued appearance which makes it quite suitable for daily wear if the owner wishes to do so.
The DB28 is a stunning work of horological art, and it is not difficult to see why. Insane craftsmanship, impressive movement, intricate dial details, and an extremely wearable case. It has been an absolute pleasure to be able to handle, and now offer this beautiful piece of wearable mechanical art on the site.